An oceanic climate (also called "west coast marine climate") predominates in western Washington, and a much drier semi-arid climate prevails east of the Cascade Range.Major factors determining Washington's climate include the large semi-permanent high pressure and low pressure systems of the north Pacific Ocean, the continental air masses of North America, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains.Stanton found the name too similar to the District of Columbia (the national capital, itself containing the city of Washington) and proposed naming the new territory after President Washington.
It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from Washington, D. Approximately 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean consisting of numerous islands, deep fjords, and bays carved out by glaciers.
The remainder of the state consists of deep temperate rainforests in the west, mountain ranges in the west, central, northeast and far southeast, and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture.
The state is the biggest producer of apples, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries, and ranks high in the production of apricots, asparagus, dry edible peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint oil, and potatoes.
Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue, and the commercial fishing of salmon, halibut, and bottomfish makes a significant contribution to the state's economy.
During these events western Washington experienced up to 6 feet (1.8 m) of snow, sub-zero (−18 °C) temperatures, three months with snow on the ground, and lakes and rivers frozen over for weeks.
Seattle's lowest officially recorded temperature is 0 °F (−18 °C) set on January 31, 1950, but low-altitude areas approximately three hours away from Seattle have recorded lows as cold as −48 °F (−44 °C).
Oregon is to the south, with the Columbia River forming the western part and the 46th parallel forming the eastern part of the Oregon-Washington border. Its northern border lies mostly along the 49th parallel, and then via marine boundaries through the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north.
Washington is part of a region known as the Pacific Northwest, a term which always includes Washington and Oregon and may or may not include some or all of the following, depending on the user's intent: Idaho, western Montana, northern California, British Columbia, and Alaska.
In the spring and summer, a high pressure anticyclone system dominates the north Pacific Ocean, causing air to spiral out in a clockwise fashion.
For Washington this means prevailing winds from the northwest bring relatively cool air and a predictably dry season.
Washington is the northwestern-most state of the contiguous United States.